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Athletes will not be allowed to wear clothing with the slogan “Black Lives Matter” at the Tokyo Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee has decided, reiterating that it plans to enforce the Games’ “Rule 50,” which bans political or social justice protests of any kind at the international athletic event set to take place in just a few weeks.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the IOC’s rules against “slogans” with a political or social justice meaning are “granular” this year and that the IOC has specifically banned apparel bearing the racial justice mantra, “Black Lives Matter.”
“The International Olympic Committee got very granular with what is not allowed. It said specifically that the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ will be banned from athlete apparel at the Summer Olympics,” the AP noted. “It’s part of the IOC’s long-standing ban on ‘demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda’ on the playing field, the medal stand or during the Games’ official ceremonies.”
Instead, athletes will be pressed to wear apparel with more “generic words,” like “peace,” “respect,” “solidarity,” “inclusion,” and “equality,” per the report.
The Olympic Committee said in April that it plans on enforcing its Rule 50 and that athletes who raise a fist or “take a knee” — a form of protest popular at athletic events in the United States — will face repercussions.
Rule 50 says that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday announced that it will enforce its rule banning athletes from demonstrating at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, noting that kneeling or raising a fist will bring swift punishment,” The Daily Wire reported. “In a report explaining its decision, the IOC said it conducted a survey of more than 3,500 international athletes across the globe over the last year and found that ‘a clear majority of athletes believe that it is not appropriate for athletes to demonstrate or express their views’ during the Games.”
The IOC has not committed to any specific form of punishment for athletes who protest and says it will determine appropriate measures on a case-by-case basis. If the IOC does punish an athlete, The World Players Association, an international union for athletes, says it will defend that athlete.
“Any athlete sanctioned at the Tokyo Olympics will have the full backing of the World Players,” the union’s director told the AP.
Global Athlete also told athletes that it would “not allow outdated ‘sports rules’ to supersede your basic human rights.”
“We envision an Olympics where the athletes are the center of the show, more than the host country or the politics around it or the sponsors,” a spokesperson for Global Athlete told the AP. “It is this huge spectacle where the athletes are an afterthought.”
Olympians from the United States have yet to say whether they will protest at the Tokyo Olympic Games, but the American Olympic committee announced in March that it will not take action against athletes who raise fists or take a knee during the U.S. Olympic trials.
“Athletes,” The Daily Wire reported, “will be allowed to raise their fists or kneel during the national anthem, and athletes will be allowed to wear ‘hats or face masks’ with specific political phrases like ‘Black Lives Matter.’ … Athletes are prevented from wearing any recognized hate symbol and cannot protest by impeding the field of play or by causing trouble for other athletes during competition.”